SXSW, one of the top film and music festivals in the country, announced today (March 6) that this year’s festival has been canceled due to fears over the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus. The annual gathering takes place in Austin, Texas.
Organizers announced the decision in a statement posted to Twitter:
“The show must go on is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramification of this unprecedented situation. As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health said on Wednesday that ‘there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer,” the statement begins, and goes on to say the “situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees an fellow Austinies.”
This is devastating news for hundreds of filmmakers and musicians, for whom the festival is a critical platform to launch their projects and sell independent films to distributors. SXSW is known to be one of the most diverse festivals in the industry, so the cancellation will especially affect artists of color.
The news comes after Apple, Netflix and more tech giants pulled out of the annual conference in recent days.
Organizers noted that the festival could possibly be rescheduled. It was originally scheduled for March 13-22.
Photo: Trenton Meeks